SE Asia Stocks - Malaysia falls before rate decision; Philippines at record closing high
BANGKOK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Thai shares gained on Wednesday after the Bank of Thailand kept its policy interest rate intact as expected while Siam Cement hit its highest in almost two years after fourth-quarter results beat forecasts. Malaysian stocks fell ahead of an interest rate decision while investors in the region were broadly cautious, with the focus on the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting. . Singapore posted modest gains on upbeat sentiment after the central bank unexpectedly eased monetary policy, saying a plunge in commodity prices had significantly changed the city-state's inflation outlook. Thailand's central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.0 percent, a level that still "supports" a struggling economy that it asserted is improving. Thai key SET index closed up 0.2 percent at 1,592.81. Siam Cement shares gained 1.7 percent to 480 baht, the highest close since May 2013, after the industrial conglomerate posted an 11 percent quarterly net profit growth on improving margins in its petrochemical business. Malaysia's index was down 0.4 percent. Malaysia's central bank held its key interest rate steady at 3.25 percent on Wednesday, as expected, saying inflation was expected to be lower than forecast and the economy remained on a steady growth path despite sharply lower commodity prices. The rate decision came after market close. Among the bright spots, the Philippine index ended up 0.4 percent at a new record closing high of 7,661.18, surpassing the record close of 7,630.57 hit on Jan. 27. "Optimism about the country's economic performance, coupled with external factors that are favorable to the equities market, continues to support the growth of the market," stock exchange president Hans B. Sicat in a report. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3419.15 3412.20 +0.20 Kuala Lumpur 1795.88 1803.17 -0.40 Bangkok 1592.81 1589.81 +0.19 Jakarta 5268.85 5277.14 -0.16 Manila 7661.18 7630.57 +0.40 Ho Chi Minh 583.76 579.30 +0.77 Change on year Market Current End 2014 Pct Move Singapore 3419.15 3365.15 +1.60 Kuala Lumpur 1795.88 1761.25 +1.97 Bangkok 1592.81 1497.67 +6.35 Jakarta 5268.85 5226.95 +0.80 Manila 7661.18 7230.57 +5.96 Ho Chi Minh 583.76 545.63 +6.99 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Sunil Nair)
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